David Chiu declines chance to be DA, wants to retain board presidency 

The leader of San Francisco’s legislative body took a pass on a possible district attorney appointment Thursday, and on Saturday will fight to remain at the helm of the Board of Supervisors.

In the latest development in the political intrigue surrounding the changing of the guard in City Hall, board President David Chiu withdrew his name for possible appointment by Mayor Gavin Newsom as San Francisco’s top prosecutor.

“Right now my strong belief is that I can best serve San Francisco from City Hall,” Chiu said in a statement.

Earlier this week, there had been widespread speculation that Newsom would appoint Chiu to succeed Kamala Harris, who left to become the state attorney general.

Newsom told reporters after Chiu’s announcement that he had narrowed his short list of potential district attorneys to four people. The mayor, in his final week in office before he becomes lieutenant governor, said he would name a new district attorney as soon as today.

Chiu will soon learn if he has the support of at least six of his colleagues to retain the leadership post as president of the board, a two-year term that would keep him in the spotlight as a political leader and strengthen his possible bid for mayor later this year. On Saturday, after four newly elected members are sworn in, the board is scheduled to vote on the next president.

Even if Chiu does not win the presidency, political consultant David Latterman said that would not necessarily kill a mayoral run. Latterman said Newsom was not board president when he was elected mayor. Jim Ross, another
local political operative, agreed.

“It looks like [Chiu] has some credibility” as a mayoral candidate, Ross said. He said Chiu has strong support in the Chinese community, which intensified when he supported City Administrator Ed Lee as interim mayor at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Chiu, whose district includes North Beach and Chinatown, was elected in 2008 with the blessing of progressive predecessor Aaron Peskin. The District 3 representative found himself voted in as board president over more-veteran colleagues, including Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. Then, Chiu began distancing himself from far-left progressive politics.

“We’re pleased to see [Chiu] decided to stay on the board,” said progressive Supervisor David Campos, who did not vote in favor of the Lee appointment Tuesday. Campos declined to say if he would vote for Chiu to remain board president.

Chiu would likely require support of moderates on the board to retain his presidency or mend fences with the core progressives, who were critical of his support of Lee.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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